Southern Company’s Nicor Gas has gained approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to move forward with a pilot project to test delivering renewable natural gas (RNG) through its distribution system. 

Nicor RNG

Through the Renewable Gas Interconnection (RGI) Pilot, RNG producers within Nicor’s service area may use the service agreement to supply gas through the utility’s 34,000 miles of pipelines. Nicor said producers would be selected on a “first-come, first-serve” basis. 

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“This program seeks to do that by bringing sustainable, clean RNG to the marketplace, while creating clean energy jobs and new revenue streams for Illinois businesses,” said Nicor Gas CEO John O. Hudson.

As the first pilot by an Illinois utility, Nicor is expecting it to demonstrate the reliability and efficiency of using RNG as an alternative fuel for its 2.2 million gas customers. 

A single RNG project in Illinois may create up to 46 full-time jobs and generate $478 million in total over its 20 years of operation, according to an economic impact study by EcoEngineers. The project would also push Nicor forward in its mission to achieve net-zero methane emissions by 2030. 

Approval of the pilot comes as Nicor filed a rate request with the ICC for another RNG pilot program, TotalGreen. If the TotalGreen program is approved, customers may be able to choose between traditional gas or RNG. Customers would also be able to purchase carbon offsets to counterbalance greenhouse gas emissions from gas.